Thursday, February 26, 2009

Response to the Response to the Response

I just caught this on Huffington Post and couldn't help sharing it with you all for various reasons:
  1. to test and see if there is still a "you all"
  2. because I haven't been posting enough recently
  3. because it's pretty funny (although it's no fake trailer for a Disney movie about Sarah Palin... damn, I still love that... gotta go back and watch... "You pucked with the wrong Ice President!"
  4. Kenneth the page is involved... and 30 Rock is such a funny funny amazing show that brings sunshine into my life
  5. Latest excuse to create a numbered list

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rez Abbasi: a case study in the weirdness of Amazon reviews

I've become a considerable fan of Rez Abassi, a talented young guitarist who has studied classical, jazz and Indian music. My introduction was his work on Rudresh Mahanthappa's absorbing Kinsmen album, but I thought I wouldn't mind checking out the work Abassi has done as a bandleader. So, as is typical, I began looking on Amazon to see what there was. I read two reviews of Bazaar that talked about Abassi as a master of the "surf guitar" and was a little taken aback. I don't really hear any surf in his music (whatever that sounds like!). What made me chuckle though, is an additional review, by none other than the master himself, that puts everything in perspective.

"Thanks guys for your nice comments.

Just to set the record straight, I am NOT influenced by "surf music". The liner notes say I grew up in Southern California near the beach and did BTW, surf. Influences here are jazz, classical and Indian music.
All the best."

The funny thing is that the other reviewers really seem to know their stuff. I wonder if they intended it as a joke. Anyway, I got a kick out of it and thought I would share.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heading Home, a baseball legacy comes full circle...

Ken Griffey Jr. is headed back to Seattle, and I, for one, really can't see anything wrong or sad or problematic about this idea. I read two articles on this morning about the Mariner's signing of Junior, and while they took markedly different views on the matter (pro and con), I side with those who say this is a good move for Seattle. I think that it is actually a good move for baseball in general. One thing that struck me as a kid who grew up in Philadelphia, watching Mike Schmidt play his whole Hall of Fame career (complete with its ups and downs) in one town, and also watching Cal Ripken do the same down in Baltimore just a few hours away that a star baseball player having a strong relationship to a town has become a truly rare thing these days.

This offseason we saw John Smoltz, who played almost two decades for Atlanta sign with the Red Sox, and I think we've all grown weary of the ARod tales about mounting pressures playing on different stages, for bigger contracts in new cities. Meanwhile, Griffey is one who has bounced aroud as well, taking advantage of his early success to land a huge deal that was supposed to simulatneously bring the kid home to Ohio and restore the strength of the Cincinatti Red's franchise. Anyone who was paying attention knows that story didn't end quite as it was predicted, and in a reasonable move, Junior spent the end of last season in Chicago trying to help the White Sox eek out another trip to the playoffs.

Now, after may years, the kid returns home to Seattle, where his story began back in the my childhood years. While writers and fans alike can quibble about whether this is a smart move, a marketing ploy, a healthy thing for the team, etc. it strikes me that this just seems like such a feel-good choice. The Mariners are not paying Griffey a ton, and they aren't taking the biggest risk ever. If it works, I beleive it might just be seen as a brilliant choice, and for a franchise with a real need to develop young talent, I really can't imagine a better influence to have around the clubhouse. Sure, he isn't a kid anymore, and there is a reasonable chance he'll get injured again this year. Even if he doesn't he may ride the pine more than he or some nostalgic fans might like, but if there is anything that has consistently been true about Ken Griffey Jr. over all the seasons, struggles and glories of his career thus far, it is this: the kid truly embodies the joy of the game. If I were a General Manager looking to concoct a formula for building strength for the future, I can imagine few ingredients I would prize more than bringing joy and passion into my clubhouse.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1,000 Shady eBay Electronics Stores Just Cried Out in Pain ...

... because of this story reported by CNN. In a victory for the environment, consumers, and common sense in general, cell phone manufacturers are pledging to move entirely to a common micro USB charger standard by 2012. This has been a long time coming. I can't tell you how happy I was to find that my new phone used the same micro USB plug as my old one. I happier still when I got to return the new travel charger I'd just bought to the Verizon store.

Of course, cell phone companies will just roll the profits they were making off of these accessories into the price they charge for the handsets themselves but at least we'll be throwing away less obsolete electronics this way.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dutch Tango? Van Twillert/ Van Beck's Tribute to Astor Piazzolla

Tributes to Astor Piazzolla seem to be cropping up lately. There's the one by Yo Yo Ma, and the jazz-driven works by Gary Burton and friends. You might ask what two classically trained Dutch Performers would bring to the table. Quite a lot, as it turns out.
A bit of background: Astor Piazzolla was the Argentinian bandoneon-player and composer who is often called the Duke Ellington of the Tango, the person who brought a musical form out of the dance hall and into the concert hall. Even more than Ellington, however, he had serious classical training, having studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. His music brings elements of jazz and classical music to the Tango, traditionally an exciting but less than adventurous kind of dance music. For this he was at first despised, and then revered in his native Argentina (in New York and Italy, however, reverence always seems to have been the reaction). He recorded numerous records as a bandleader with several of them, most notably Zero Hour and The New Tango, considered classics.

Now, unto the task at hand: Saxophonist Henk van Twillert and violinist Sonja van Beek decided that they would do the obvious: get together with a string quintet and record some tango. The bandoneon, Piazzolla's instrument and the tango's main voice, is completely absent, with its place taken by the sax. The vibes and percussion that characterize much of Piazzolla's music are also gone. The result, however, is entirely something the composer would have been proud of. Burton's highly regarded outings for Concord reminded us how much jazz is in Piazzolla's music. In this case, our Dutch friends remind us how much Astor took from the European classical tradition. His music sounds as appropriate with a string quintet as a jazz combo.
Don't get the wrong idea though. This is tango, not chamber music and it positively swings, or stomps, or whatever it is tango does when it makes you want to move. I can't dance tango to save my life but if I could, I bet I could dance to this. The playing is exemplary all around, and some of the slower pieces are particularly beautiful. Van Beek plays a 1709 Strad' and her tone is truly lovely.

This is probably not the best introduction to Piazzolla's work-- it isn't meant to be. But, if you're a Astorhead like me, it's a fresh and satisfying take on the music of one of the 20th century's greatest talents, in any genre.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Drill Baby Drill into the Future???

Well, the GOP had a bit of a tough time picking their new leader but in the end they chose Michael Steele, Lt. Governor of Maryland. Grist magazine helpfully points out today that one of Steele's biggest accomplishments to date has been coining the term, "Drill, baby! Drill!"

That's right! You mighta thunk it was our pal Sarah, but I'll say it ain't so, Joe. It was Mikey who likes oil and drilling so much that he put this clever little tidbit together, and only after it had slipped out of his mouth did it later gain legs and become the happy-go-lucky rallying cry of Mrs. Palin and so so so so so many Republicans from sea to shinging sea.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Liveblogging the latest interesting live event on the TV

The Boss is rockin' "Glory Days" on the Teevee and Kim and I kicked some household chores' butts all afternoon so I gots to thinking, what should I be doing right now?

Liveblogggin! That's what!

8:17 PM - "IT's BOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS TIME!!!!!" Um... wow.
8:19 PM - Well the Max Weinberg halftime show was AWESOME, at least in my humble opinion.

9:50 PM - Ok... um... my liveblogging skills clearly do not extend to sporting events. Oh well.